An emergency medical technician in New Jersey was removed from a volunteer board of health after he made racist and threatening Facebook comments about participants of a Black Lives Matter protest.
“I told them I’d shoot and then kneel on their neck! Haha,” Matthew Kronyak wrote, according to screenshots provided to NBC News.
The Borough of Carlstadt, about 13 miles northeast of Newark, said in a statement on Facebook that the comments were brought to its attention Thursday after a peaceful rally against racism in support of the Black Lives Matter cause.
“An appointed-member of our volunteer Board of Health used his personal social media to make racist, and threatening comments to participants of that rally,” the statement said.
The board’s secretary told NBC News the comments were written by Kronyak, who has been an emergency medical technician for 12 and a half years, according to his LinkedIn page.
“This behavior is unacceptable and the individual has been removed from his volunteer position effective immediately,” the statement said.
Kronyak, 70, of Carlstadt, did not immediately return requests for comment Friday.
In a since-deleted Facebook post, he described Thursday’s protest as “A BIG NOTHING.”
“About 80 people, if that many, it was a waste of time,” he wrote. “At least 3/4 of the people weren’t from town, no one faces discrimination here, even the ‘speakers’ said so.”
Abhishake Shah, 25, a protest organizer who spoke at the event, commented on Kronyak’s Facebook post Thursday.
“As one of the speakers, I can say that it is not valid,” Shah wrote. “Several of us spoke broadly about incidents and moments where we felt like we ‘didn’t belong.'”
Shah added: “We did not want to be hateful or show anger. If you’d like, I would love to discuss this further with you. Feel free to message me; we all need to learn a little bit more about our neighbors. We all need to listen and learn about each other’s experiences, including me.”
Kronyak replied, “are you a muslim? If so, nuff said terrorist.”
In an interview Friday, Shah said that he was shocked by Kronyak’s response. He said he learned about it after a friend sent him a screenshot of it.
“For a moment I was very upset,” he said.
But, Shah said, he is taking comfort in the kindness he has been shown by his friends and fellow protest organizers.
“These incidents are going to happen,” he said.
His offer to meet with Kronyak still stands.
“I would encourage him to meet with me to discuss the Black Lives Matter platform,” Shah said. “It’s about coming together in the community.”
Shah’s comment was not the only one to garner a response from Kronyak.
After one commenter said Kronyak hid his face during the protest, Kronyak replied: “I had my face out in the beginning but the odor was too much for a normal human.” If anyone yelled “Black lives matter,” Kronyak said, he turned around and displayed the back of his shirt, which said “dedicated to all the officers that made the ultimate sacrifice.”
Kronyak faced backlash over his remarks to Shah and about kneeling on the necks of protesters, with one commenter writing, “Wow Matt that’s as racist a remark as I ever heard.”
Dylan Majsiak, 22, attended Thursday’s protest and said he encountered Kronyak carrying a sign, “I support Carlstadt Police.”
Majsiak, who lives in East Rutherford, near Carlstadt, said no one bothered or interacted with Kronyak, “but he still took to Facebook later in the day to threaten us and others.”
Kronyak’s Facebook post was public before it was deleted, Majsiak said in an interview Friday.
“What is most alarming here is that this obviously was not an isolated incident,” Majsiak said. “This individual has friends in town and was appointed to this position. The post itself had comments and likes which meant people in town, on some level, agreed with these derogatory and dehumanizing comments.”